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S. Korea needs to take lead in urging N. Korea to improve human rights conditions

S. Korea needs to take lead in urging N. Korea to improve human rights conditions

Posted September. 25, 2014 04:30,   


President Park Geun-hye introduced the Korean government’s policies for the reconciliation of the two Koreas in her speech in the United Nations General Assembly, expressing concerns about North Korea’s human rights conditions. This UN General Assembly involves 83 heads of states and 28 ministers from the world. The UN General Assembly is an important and efficient occasion to explain Korea’s efforts to overcome the division and appeal to leaders from the world as it is a venue of the world’s largest multi-national diplomacy.

The UN Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea released a 372-page report on human rights violation cases in North Korea in February this year. The commission said, “Organized and extensive human rights violation is being done.” It recommended that the UN Security Council refer North Korea’s anti-humanitarian crime to the International Criminal Court and hold those responsible accountable. Though it did not mention the name, the commission pointed out the country’s leader Kim Jong Un. According to the recommendation by the commission, the UN General Assembly is likely to adopt a stricter resolution on North Korea’s human rights compared to the past.

The moves of the U.S. and other developed countries in human rights are also encouraging. US State Secretary John Kerry said in the first ministerial meeting on North Korea’s human rights before the UN General Assembly, "Torture and forced abortions are routine. And the sentencing of Americans to labor camps without a trial – a fair trial – is as unjust as it is reprehensible.” The ministerial meeting involved Korea, Japan, and Australia. If EU member countries are added, it will have a drive to push North Korea to change. South Korean Foreign Minister Yoon Byung-se said, “We hope that a stronger resolution including holding North Korea responsible for human rights issues can be adopted.”

While Pyongyang criticizes the UN’s pointing to its human rights violation as slandering, it shows a different response this year. It sent its foreign minister to the UN General Assembly for the first time in 15 years and said, “If it makes a sufficient consideration into North Korea’s human rights and create a righteous report in a legal process, we are ready to cooperate to the extent possible.” North Korea issued its own human rights report, which described its human rights situation positively, on Sept.13.

Pyongyang’s response seems to show that it has recognized it cannot just turn a deaf ear to the criticism of the international community over the oppression of human rights. The suppression of human rights in dictatorial regimes was gradually mitigated by the invention of developed countries without an exception. It is our responsibility to elicit changes in North Korea by taking advantage of the U.N.’s interest in North Korea’s human rights. We need to make the North understand that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will be the "enemy of the international community" if Pyongyang keeps violates human rights and avoids the requests for improvement from the international community.